A demon invasion is no excuse for bad grades.
This tagline speaks to me on a whole new level!
Welcome to another book review by moi and it will be on the one and only, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C Yee. Genie Lo is a self-disciplined and rather tough Chinese American who is looking to finish high school and go to college when demons invade her quiet town. Now, she’s caught in a supernatural mess of fighting them off, training with the Monkey King, and conversing with ancient Chinese gods, which all seems to be ruining her chances of college prep.
I started this book with high expectations after hearing amazing things about it. It did not disappoint. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is incredibly funny, action-packed and you need to read this if you love Chinese folklore. It’s a modern retelling of Journey to the West set in contemporary society (which offers many moments of comedy in itself) and I feel like a lot of Chinese readers will thoroughly enjoy this. As a kid, I watched the live-action adaptions of Journey to the West, but for those unfamiliar with the story there is enough explanation throughout the novel that will bring you up to speed in no time.
So, where do I even begin to describe how fantastic this book is?
Genie Lo is the angry teen protagonist we need.
All Genie wants to is get into a prestigious college and ace her classes. She’s an overachiever, has a lot of spunk and is such a nerd. She’s realistic, relatable and entertaining. She’s also got a lot of anger towards a few things (heck, I was an angry teen) but it doesn’t border onto teen angst. She’s also quite conscious of her Asian heritage, often making comments about the differences between her family and Western/American culture; while it adds a break from the battles and banter, it also offers an interesting insight into how some Chinese-American teenagers view their lives.
It is laced with light comedy and action.
When the goofy and rather strange Quentin introduces himself to Genie, it doesn’t end well. But as their stories reveal they have a long history together, it brings a novel’s worth of wicked banter, fighting demons, talking to Chinese gods and getting to know each other.
Genie’s best friend Yunie provided some of the best dialogue I’ve read ever – she is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I also loved the touch of family dynamics, something I found added a genuine quality to Genie and her relationship with her mother and father. Rather than just having her parents as background noise, they are involved and shape Genie into who she is.
I adored the blooming relationship between Quentin and Genie. Both of them offer such hilarious and refreshing perspectives, which is absolutely brilliant. And when they paired with Genie, they make a hilarious dynamic duo. There’s also a lot of gaming and tech references which is A+.
The writing is absolutely brilliant.
How is this a debut novel? The writing is so easy to follow and down-to-earth. Yee balances the novel’s battles with demons (yaoguai) with discussion of Genie’s family history and her relationship with her best friend, Yunie. Oh, and chatting to the Goddess of Mercy.
So what are you waiting for? If you love mythology, action and light romance, pick this up. It’s engaging, exhilarating and downright hilarious. Just read it.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.